Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22: 2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10; Psalm 18:1-15; Proverbs 19:24-25; Romans 7:14-8:8



Overview

            2 Chronicles: At the dedication of the temple Solomon had a prayer before the whole assembly. He praised God who keeps his covenant with the people and David. He asked the Lord to confirm the promises to David. He also asked that the Lord to hear prayers night and day when people pray toward the temple.
            He asks the Lord to hear oaths sworn before the altar to convict the sinful and vindicate the innocent. He asks that God hear prayers to forgive when they sin and he brings enemies, drought, famine, or other disasters. Since God knows the motives of those praying, then he will forgive honest prayers. Solomon also asks that the Lord hear the prayers of foreigners who come because they hear of God’s name.
            If the people sin, everyone sins, and they are taken captive to other lands and they repent and pray toward their land and the temple, Solomon asks that God forgive them.
            After Solomon’s prayer, he blessed the assembly. He said that not one word that the Lord promised through Moses had failed. He asks that the Lord help them follow all the rules and commands. He also asks that all his prayers be close to the Lord and that he will maintain the cause of the people so that all the earth will know that the Lord is God and there is no other. He asks the people to be true to the Lord.
            When he finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and burned up the burnt offering and sacrifices. The people bowed down when they saw the fire.
            Solomon and the people then offered sacrifices. 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep to dedicate the temple. He consecrated the court before the temple and sacrificed them there because the bronze altar was too small for them all. They also had a great feast in all Israel for seven days. The people went home with joy.
            The Lord appeared to Solomon again. He said he heard Solomon’s prayers and that if people prayed toward this temple and repent, he would heal their land. He confirmed his promises to him if he would walk in the ways of David with integrity and uprightness of heart. He would need to follow all God’s commands. If so, then God would establish his throne over Israel forever. If he didn’t and went after other gods, then God would remove Israel from the land and destroy the temple. Everyone would know why.
            At the end of twenty years, Solomon had finished the temple and his own palace. He rebuilt cities Hiram had given to him along with building other fortified cities. People who were descendants of the original land of Canaan were drafted into forced labor. The people of Israel were soldiers, officers, and commanders.
            Psalm: : David declares his love of God and praises him for being his fortress and deliver. He calls on God and is rescued (Ps 18:1-3). He poetically describes his distress before being rescued as being in the jaws of death but God hears from his temple (Ps 18:4-6). David then follows this with a majestic description of God’s rescue, again in very symbolic terms, bowing the heavens, riding on a cherub, thunder, hailstones, arrows of lightning, and the foundations of the world being laid bare (Ps 18:7-15).
            Proverbs: How lazy is a lazy person? He is so lazy he won’t even feed himself. Punish a mocker and he will simply learn not to mock. Warn a wise person and he will be the better for it.
            Romans: Paul tells about his own struggle with sin. He knows the Law is good and agrees with it, but he does things he hates and doesn’t want to do. He knows that nothing good lives in his flesh. He has a desire to do what is right but keeps on dong evil so it is sin that lives in him that causes this. Whenever he wants to do right, evil is there trying to make him sin instead. It is a war between what he wants in his mind and what he does with the members of his body. What a wretched person he is but his rescue from this is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
            There is no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus. The Spirit of life has set him free from sin and death. The Law couldn’t keep him from sinning because of his flesh. Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. He fulfilled the requirement of the Law for us so we can live according to the Spirit. Those who are against God have their minds on the flesh which is death. They can’t subject themselves to the Law and can’t please God. But those who have their minds on the Spirit have life and peace.

What Stood Out

            2 Chronicles: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron 7:14).
            Psalm: “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Ps 18:6).
            Proverbs: “Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge” (Prov 19:25).
            Romans: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom 8:1-2).

Insight

            2 Chronicles: 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a familiar verse for many people. It is quoted often at prayer rallies and even the national prayer breakfast. We often quote it because we believe that if Christians will just pray for our nation, it will be healed of all the evils that are increasing in this country and others. They claim it as a promise that God will honor because these words are God’s and not some other person.
            When David was promised an eternal house, he asked God to do what he had promised, and God did raise up Solomon but there were many years between the return from Babylon and the arrival of Jesus in which this promise was not kept. Only if we see Jesus reigning over the Church as a fulfilment of God’s promise to Israel, can we say his promise is being fulfilled today. Sometimes the promise doesn’t look like what we expect. This may be the case for God’s promise to Solomon that we quote without examining it.
            What about God’s promise to Solomon? Can we claim it for us today? Who are God’s people and what is their land? Have they repented of their wicked ways so that God will hear? These questions must be answered to determine if God will answer the prayers for the Christians in a particular country.
            According to 1 Peter 2:9-10 we are a chosen race and a royal priesthood and God’s people. According to Paul, that would include all believers in Christ, Jews and Gentiles (Eph 3:6). We qualify on the first point of being God’s people. What is our land? Is it the nations in which we live? I don’t think so. Paul tells us that our citizenship is in heaven (Eph 2:19; Phil 3:20). If anything outside of heaven, our land could only be considered the Church universal. While we want to have a godly nation, it won’t happen if our churches are not godly. Before praying for our nation, we need to pray for our churches to be holy.
            Another condition of the prayer is that the people must repent of their wickedness. This is the people living in the land or exiled to another country. This is specifically Jews. It isn’t a promise to Christians in general. As close as I can come to this would be to see the churches in a nation repenting. That isn’t happening in the U.S. and it may be spreading. But the question then should be asked, why aren’t countries being healed where the church is much purer but under persecution? The bottom line is that this promise was specifically for the nation of Israel and not necessarily for Christians today. Read the book of Revelation and also what Paul says will happen in the latter days (2 Tim 3:1-5). We will be persecuted and things will not get better. That is why Jesus will come back.
            I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for our country, but we need to pray for salvations first of all because nothing in the country will change if people don’t get saved. We need to pray for churches to get serious about calling sin what it is and calling people to repent. If people, including leaders get saved and then act like it, there is hope for a country.
            Psalm: In today’s reading in 2 Chronicles, God said he would hear from heaven (2 Chron 7:14). David says that God heard him from his temple. David wrote this Psalm long before the temple existed. It was even before David thought about building a temple for the Lord. Obviously, David is referring to God’s temple in heaven where his eternal throne exists (Isa 66:1). We really need to remember that God is omnipresent. He doesn’t really live in some specified location, whether it is heaven or the temple. When we pray, he is always attentive to his people. We don’t have go through some special rituals to get his attention. We don’t have to pray in a specific direction. We don’t have to kneel, stand, raise our hands or fold them. We don’t have to close our eyes, bow our heads, or stand on one foot. We don’t have to use any specific formulas though the “Lord’s Prayer” is something we should use to tell us about our attitude and some of the things we should be praying about. And we shouldn’t only pray when we are in trouble. We should be praying always with all kinds of prayers and petitions (Eph 6:18). Our prayers can be limitless because we are praying to God who is infinite.
            Proverbs: There is a difference in the way we disciple different people. People who are wise or discerning will lean from a warning or a rebuke and make the necessary changes to become a better person. This is essentially repentance. However, some people don’t listen to warnings and end up with some physical punishment. The problem with them, is that it seldom leads to repentance. It may result in behavior modification but in their hearts they haven’t changed.
            Romans: Paul explains the war between our problem with sin and following what we know is right by telling about his own struggle with sin. Some believe he was telling about his ongoing struggle with sin all his life. This is something that we all have. Others believe he was telling about his struggle with sin before becoming a Christian when he was trying to obey the Law in order to be saved. There are some good points in each of the arguments. The best point that this was before his conversion is where he says he keeps on doing evil (Rom 7:19) and was captive to the law of sin (Rom 7:23). It also fits that he says Jesus Christ delivered him from the body of death (Rom 7:24-25). The best argument for it still being a struggle is that he serves the law of God with his mind and his flesh serves the law of sin (Rom 7:25).
            I look beyond this struggle to see that we have no condemnation when we are in Jesus. The Spirit has set us free (Rom 8:1-2). What I see in these next few verses is the promise of sanctification. We don’t have to always do the wrong thing when we set our minds on the Spirit. We can be changed from the inside out by the constant renewing of the Holy Spirit. Sure, we fail at times, but it isn’t a constant failure. We may even be able to handle things for several hours without sinning. The point is that with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can repent and be changed. While we must always be alert to temptation we do not have to sin.

Application

             I need to be aware for my ability to sin and I must also yield to the Holy Spirit so that I don’t. I can overcome sin by his power and the blood of Jesus. I can continue in sanctification so that sin is less frequent.

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